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Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 5793620, 6 pages
Research Article

Expression, Purification, and Characterization of (R)-Sulfolactate Dehydrogenase (ComC) from the Rumen Methanogen Methanobrevibacter millerae SM9

AgResearch Limited, Grasslands Research Centre, Tennent Drive, Private Bag 11008, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand

Correspondence should be addressed to Linley R. Schofield

Received 10 May 2017; Accepted 19 September 2017; Published 6 November 2017

Academic Editor: Nils-Kåre Birkeland

Copyright © 2017 Yanli Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


(R)-Sulfolactate dehydrogenase (EC, termed ComC, is a member of an NADH/NADPH-dependent oxidoreductase family of enzymes that catalyze the interconversion of 2-hydroxyacids into their corresponding 2-oxoacids. The ComC reaction is reversible and in the biosynthetic direction causes the conversion of (R)-sulfolactate to sulfopyruvate in the production of coenzyme M (2-mercaptoethanesulfonic acid). Coenzyme M is an essential cofactor required for the production of methane by the methyl-coenzyme M reductase complex. ComC catalyzes the third step in the first established biosynthetic pathway of coenzyme M and is also involved in methanopterin biosynthesis. In this study, ComC from Methanobrevibacter millerae SM9 was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli and biochemically characterized. Sulfopyruvate was the preferred substrate using the reduction reaction, with 31% activity seen for oxaloacetate and 0.2% seen for α-ketoglutarate. Optimal activity was observed at pH 6.5. The apparent KM for coenzyme (NADH) was 55.1 μM, and for sulfopyruvate, it was 196 μM (for sulfopyruvate the Vmax was 93.9 μmol min−1 mg−1 and kcat was 62.8 s−1). The critical role of ComC in two separate cofactor pathways makes this enzyme a potential means of developing methanogen-specific inhibitors for controlling ruminant methane emissions which are increasingly being recognized as contributing to climate change.